Former chief security officer during the late Sani Abacha military regime, Hamza Al-Mustapha, has been absolved of all charges relating to the murder of Kudirat Abiol by the Court of Appeal in Lagos.
The verdict, which is a unanimous decision from a panel of three justices headed by Amina Augie, overturns that of the Lagos High Court delivered by Justice Mojisola Dada on January 30, 2013 which sentenced him to death by hanging.
Augie held that the Lagos High Court that convicted Mustapha, a retired colonel, for the murder of Abiola, was “stroked to secure a conviction by all means.”
Al-Mustapha had appealed the judgement of the High Court, in a 40-paragraph brief of argument filed by his counsel, Joseph Daudu, claiming he was convicted of serving in “a hated administration”.
He said the judgment was based on “unreliable and discredited” testimonies of the star witnesses of the prosecution and prayed the appellate court to set aside his conviction for the murder of KudiratAbiola by the High Court.
Justice Ibrahim Saulawa of the Court of Appeal, who was initially handling the case, suddenly announced his withdrawal on May 30, citing personal reasons, causing the case to be transferred toAugie.
The appellate court ruled on Friday that there was no direct circumstantial evidence that Mustapha conspired with anyone as evidence of prosecution witnesses in that regard were contradictory.
The court also discharged Lateef Shofolahan, co-accused withMustapha.
The two were first arraigned in October 1999 on a four count charge bothering on conspiracy and involvement in the murder of late Kudirat Abiola, wife of a late politician, M.K.O. Abiola.
Kudirat was shot dead along the Lagos/Ibadan Expressway on June 4 1996, at the age of 45.